Temnothorax exilis

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Temnothorax exilis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Crematogastrini
Genus: Temnothorax
Species group: exilis
Species: T. exilis
Binomial name
Temnothorax exilis
(Emery, 1869)

Temnothorax exilis casent0010685 profile 1.jpg

Temnothorax exilis casent0010685 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen labels


On Crete, this species is found in open, dry habitats, especially those overgrown by phrygana (Salata, Borowiec & Trichas, 2018) while in Greece it is considered to be a xerothermophilous species associated with rocky, open and arid habitats (Salata & Borowiec, 2019). Nests are in soil, most often under medium size rocks or in rock cleavages, and always in sunny localities. Colonies are monogamous or polygynous (Salata, Borowiec & Trichas, 2018). In Portugal, Boieiro et al. (2002) (as Temnothorax specularis) report a single colony occurring beneath a stone in an area of sclerophyllous vegetation near Tesoureira (UTM 29SMD8709) and several workers being collected by means of pitfall traps in the same area. This is a rather common species in Spain, particularly in areas throughout the Mediterranean coast.


Salata et al. (2018) - Temnothorax exilis is readily separated from other Cretan species by a combination of following characters: lack of metanotal groove, reduced head and mesosoma striation and high petiole node with flat dorsal surface. Cretan populations of this species are usually have completely dark body colouration or are occasionally bicolor. Bright brown to yellow colored specimens of this species are known from continental Greece.

Cretan populations of T. exilis are more homogenous than populations from continental Greece and the western part of Mediterranean basin, although this taxon is otherwise extremely variable on island parts of Greece. Additional study is needed to assess if these populations are a single species or a group of cryptic species.

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: 45.216667° to 33.516667°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Palaearctic Region: Algeria, Balearic Islands, Croatia, France, Georgia, Gibraltar, Greece, Iberian Peninsula, Italy (type locality), Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Slovenia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


Association with Other Organisms

Other Ants

  • This species is a host for the ant Temnothorax corsicus (a workerless inquiline).
  • This species is a host for the ant Temnothorax kutteri (a slave maker) (Acosta Salmerón et al., 1983; Espadaler & Restrepo, 1983; Buschinger et al., 1988; Beibl et al., 2007; de la Mora et al., 2021) (fairly common host).
  • This species is a host for the ant Temnothorax muellerianus (a slave maker) in Crete (Salata, Borowiec & Trichas, 2018).


  • This species is a host for the fungus Myrmicinosporidium durum (a pathogen) (Espadaler & Santamaria, 2012).

Life History Traits

  • Queen number: monogynous (Frumhoff & Ward, 1992)




The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • exilis. Leptothorax exilis Emery, 1869b: 15, pl. 1, fig. 9 (w.) ITALY. Emery, 1916b: 183, 186 (q.m., respectively). Combination in Temnothorax: Bolton, 2003: 271. Subspecies of tuberum: Emery & Forel, 1879: 459; Emery, 1891b: 6; Ruzsky, 1902d: 21; Emery, 1915h: 2. Status as species: Dalla Torre, 1893: 124; Forel, 1913d: 433; Emery, 1916b: 174; Santschi, 1923f: 331; Müller, 1923: 89; Finzi, 1924a: 13; Santschi, 1929e: 153; Baroni Urbani, 1971d: 1041. Senior synonym of ruficornis: Emery, 1916b: 174; of boccaris, creticus, darii, nitidulus and material of the unavailable name esmirensis referred here: Baroni Urbani, 1971d: 1041.
  • creticus. Leptothorax exilis subsp. creticus Forel, 1910a: 23 (w.q.) GREECE (Crete). Menozzi, 1936d: 289 (m.). Junior synonym of exilis: Baroni Urbani, 1971d: 1041.
  • darii. Leptothorax exilis var. darii Forel, 1911d: 334 (w.) TURKEY. Menozzi, 1936d: 287 (q.l.). Subspecies of exilis: Cori & Finzi, 1931: 238. Junior synonym of exilis: Baroni Urbani, 1971d: 1041.
  • ruficornis. Leptothorax tuberum subsp. ruficornis Emery, 1914d: 157 (w.) FRANCE ? [First available use of Leptothorax tuberum subsp. exilis var. ruficornis Emery, 1898c: 135; unavailable name.] Junior synonym of exilis: Emery, 1916b: 174.
  • boccaris. Leptothorax exilis var. boccaris Santschi, 1923f: 331 (w.) TUNISIA. Junior synonym of exilis: Baroni Urbani, 1971d: 1041.
  • nitidulus. Leptothorax exilis var. nitidulus Santschi, 1923f: 331 (w.q.) ALGERIA. [First available use of Leptothorax tuberum r. obscurior var. nitidulus Forel, 1894d: 39; unavailable name.] Junior synonym of exilis: Baroni Urbani, 1971d: 1041.
  • specularis. Leptothorax exilis var. specularis Emery, 1916b: 174 (w.) ITALY.
    • [First available use of Leptothorax tuberum subsp. exilis var. specularis Emery, 1898c: 135; unavailable name.]
    • Santschi, 1923a: 135 (m.).
    • Combination in Temnothorax: Bolton, 2003: 271.
    • Junior synonym of exilis: Baroni Urbani, 1971d: 1041; Salata, Borowiec & Trichas, 2018: 778.
    • Status as species: Collingwood, 1978: 70.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.



Salata et al. (2018) - based on Cretan specimens (n=15): HL: 0.634 ± 0.03 (0.581-0.671); HW: 0.507 ± 0.03 (0.47-0.564); SL: 0.479 ± 0.03 (0.43-0.536); EL: 0.154 ± 0.009 (0.145-0.168); EW: 0.104 ± 0.008 (0.087-0.112); ML: 0.713 ± 0.06 (0.625-0.816); PSL: 0.156 ± 0.02 (0.126-0.184); SDL: 0.121 ± 0.01 (0.106- 0.134); PL: 0.283 ± 0.05 (0.235-0.391); PPL: 0.161 ± 0.01 (0.145-0.179); PH: 0.193 ± 0.02 (0.168-0.212); PPH: 0.187 ± 0.01 (0.168-0.201); HTL: 0.417 ± 0.03 (0.369- 0.458); PNW: 0.358 ± 0.02 (0.33-0.391); PW: 0.143 ± 0.01 (0.117-0.156); PPW: 0.184 ± 0.02 (0.156-0.201); HI: 80.4 ± 1.6 (77.8-84.2); SI1: 75.5 ± 1.9 (73.3-80.0); SI2: 93.9 ± 2.4 (90.8-97.9); MI: 59.3 ± 2.6 (54.7-62.7); EI1: 67.8 ± 5.7 (55.8-77.2); EI2: 16.5 ± 1.1 (13.9-17.7); TI: 121.1 ± 4.1 (116.2-127.4); PI: 146.0 ± 16.4 (131.4-184.4); PPI: 86.2 ± 2.0 (83.6-89.1).

Most often whole body uniformly brown to dark brown. Only antennae, mandibles and tibiae brown to bright brown, clubs always darkened. In some specimens mesosoma is brighter than head and gaster, but always brown. Femora with dark spots in central part. Specimens with mesosoma yellow or reddish yellow or specimens completely pale coloured, which are often observed in populations west of Greece, have never been observed in Cretan populations.

Head quadrate to subrectangular, 1.3 times as long as wide, lateral surfaces below eyes straight, above eyes gently convex, posterior edges convex, occipital margin of head straight or slightly concave. Anterior margin of the clypeus slightly convex, with medial notch. Eyes small, oval, 1.5 times as long as wide. Antennal scape short, in lateral view slightly curved, 0.75 times as long as length of the head, in apex gradually widened, its base with small, triangular tooth, funiculus long, club 3 segmented. Surface of scape with very fine microreticulation, shiny, covered with thin, sparse, adjusted to subdecumbent setae. Mandibles rounded with thick sparse, longitudinal striae, shiny. Clypeus shiny with thin, sparse, longitudinal striae, area between striae smooth. Frontal carinae short, not extending beyond frontal lobes. Antennal fossa deep, with sparse, thin roundly curved striae, area between striae smooth and shiny. Frontal lobes narrow, smooth with thin, sparse longitudinal striation. Head on the almost whole surface smooth and shiny. Sculpture, if occurs, limited to sparse, thin, longitudinal striation on the posterior part of frons and area between eyes and mandibles. Entire head bearing from subdecumbent to suberect, pale, short and thick setae.

Mesosoma elongate, 2.0 times as long as wide, slightly arched in profile. Pronotum convex on sides. Propodeal spines medium, with wide base, directed upward, with acute tips. Mesosoma shiny, its dorsal surface on the almost whole surface smooth and shiny, only its outer edges wits sparse, thin longitudinal striation, area between striation smooth. Lateral surfaces of pronotum with thin, sparse longitudinal striation, area between striation with microreticulation, shiny. Lateral surfaces of mesonotum and propodeum with thick, dense, longitudinal striation, area between striae smooth. Entire mesosoma bearing suberect to erect, pale, short and thick setae.

Petiole, in lateral view, with short peduncle, node high, with anterior and posteriol faces concave, its dorsal surface arched. Postpetiole, in lateral view, regularly convex, apical half with gently convex sides. Peduncle and petiolar node and postpetiole dorsum shiny, with thin, dense reticulation, area between rugae smooth, sometimes centre of dorsal surfaces of petiolar node and postpetiole dorsum with reduced striation or smooth. Petiole and postpetiole on dorsal surfaces bearing sparse, short, semierect to erect setae.

Gaster smooth and shiny, bearing erect, thin, pale setae. Legs short, shiny, with fine microreticulation. Tibiae 0.7 times as long as head length, bearing adpressed setae on the whole surface. Inner margins of tibia and femora without erect setae.

Type Material

Salata et al. (2018) - syntype (w.) (CASENT0904756): Leptothorax exilis Em., Napoli; VII 77, Casamicciola; Museo Civico di Genoa; ANTWEB, CASENT0904756 (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale, Genoa); T. specularis, syntype (w.) (CASENT0904757): Leptothorax exilis v. specularis; Pizza, Cavarma; Museo Civico di Genova; ANTWEB, CASENT0904757 (MSNG) [images examined].


  • n = 11 (Croatia; France; Italy; Turkey) (Fischer, 1987) (as Leptothorax exilis).
  • n = 17 (Italy) (Fischer, 1987) (as Leptothorax specularis).


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